Terrence Heeney had a paralyzing stroke exactly three years ago in July of 2015 and thought he would never walk again or be able to properly sort his words. However, he has fought the negative thoughts and battled through rehabilitation and is now walking and talking as he did before.
Heeney is a man after my own heart. He has traveled all over the world visiting just about every country you can name while working for Ingram Content Group / Ingram International. “I’ve seen most of the world, it is really beautiful,” he told me with a smile.
Mr. Heeney told me, “I will not get depressed – no matter how this turns out, I will not allow myself to get depressed.” He went on to say, “When I wake up I say – The potential for another day.”
Doctors told him while in the hospital that he would need to re-learn all the basics like walking, chewing food, swallowing food, etc. After being released from the medical center, he underwent six solid months of rehabilitation at the Life Care Center of Hickory Woods on Murfreesboro Road. He eventually gained the strength to once again live and he decided to give back to those who helped him while encouraging others that the road to recovery does indeed get easier.
Today, Heeney visits the rehab center on a regular basis to share his story of hope with others. He smiled and told me about a 55 year old patient who recently had an intensive surgery to his lower legs. Heeney talked about how the man was not recovering at the speed he had aimed for and was in a lot of pain. I asked Heeney what he said to the man to ease his anxiety and he laughed a little while stating, “I said, you know, you’re a young man and this is only a piece of your life, not your whole life, so knock it off.” With a chuckle Heeney told me that the next day he visited the rehab center and the man’s wife told him that she now has a brand new husband. The 55-year old man walked out of the facility on his own a month later.
Heeney continues to help others with a new outlook on life. One of the many things that he enjoys includes teaching. “I teach English three times a week to elderly seniors who are from war-torn countries and I help them get their citizenship – so I step outside myself,” he stated.
In closing I asked the simple question, “What would you tell someone who maybe having a hard time or who is going through a struggle right now?” Again I saw his face light up, “You’ve got to train your mind to be positive and not allow yourself to get depressed. If you do, set the clock on your stove for 10 minutes and when that buzzer goes off – it’s over, stop thinking about yourself.” He also told me that after his time at the rehab center was over and he returned home, he knew the road to recovery was not yet over. So, he would deliberately buy only a small amount of groceries so that he would be forced to make a return trip to the store up to three times per week – in other words he forced himself to get out of the house.
“You know, you’re a young man and this is only a piece of your life, not your whole life, so knock it off.” - Terrence Heeney of Nashville, TN